Belfast Telegraph

Diana Henry on her ideal death row meal... and the one thing she still cannot make

Ella Walker grills the cookery writer from Northern Ireland on her daily food decisions

New book: Diana Henry
New book: Diana Henry
Chicken with wild mushrooms, pumpkin, rice and sage butter from Diana's new cookbook
Diana's new cookbook

By Ella Walker

Known as the queen of chicken related recipes (just check any of her many recipe books), Diana Henry is an expert when it comes to putting together simple dinners that don't result in an anxiety headache.

Her latest cookbook, From The Oven To The Table, is no different. It features a collection of dishes that rely on the burnishing, "transformative" powers of chucking ingredients into a tin and then - full of hope - into the oven.

We caught up with the cook and writer about how and what she eats day-to-day...

Your death row meal would be...

"If I was really on death row, I probably wouldn't care, but if I had to choose; a good roast chicken, potatoes roasted in olive oil and rosemary, a well dressed green salad and a pot of Dijon mustard."

The thing you still can't make is...

"Bloody puff pastry! All that rolling and turning and resting. I try, but I have warm hands, so it's difficult. It was the one thing I didn't master when I was at cookery school. I hate being defeated. Also, there's good commercial stuff available which sort of renders making your own redundant. But I keep trying."

Your favourite store-cupboard essential has to be...

"Anchovies and capers. I love salty flavours."

The kitchen utensil you couldn't live without is...

"If you're talking about machinery, then a food processor. If something substantial, then great knives (I like Opinel and Sabatier). If you mean something small, then a Microplane zester."

Your late night snack of choice has to be...

"Almost too many to mention. Cheese on toast, plain dark chocolate with dried apricots or hazelnuts, anchovies on good bread."

Your signature dish is...

"It's hard to pick one, but the two I really love are whisky cured gravlax with a fennel and apple relish, and leg of lamb marinated in yoghurt and spices with aubergine puree."

You like your eggs...

"I adore eggs and will eat them any way - boiled, scrambled, poached, fried - but particularly like devilled eggs and eggs Benedict (it's impossible for me not to order eggs Benedict if they are on a menu)."

Your childhood dinners featured a lot of...

"Roast chicken with stuffing."

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Chicken with wild mushrooms, pumpkin, rice and sage butter from Diana's new cookbook

Last night you ate...

"Chicken joints roasted with cherry tomatoes and chilli, with mozzarella and parmesan added at the end, and the whole thing bunged under the grill. Fresh basil on top. Kind of like a margarita, but for chicken."

If you're ordering takeout, it has to be...

"We have an Indian takeaway once every couple of weeks, usually when I'm too tired to cook. I love dal and Indian vegetable dishes."

Your ultimate hangover cure is...

"Very dull, but litres of black coffee and water. Works a treat."

You really cannot stomach...

"Kidneys. I really can't understand why people like them. I have had to hide them under mashed potato in the past."

From The Oven To The Table: Simple Dishes That Look After Themselves by Diana Henry, photography by Laura Edwards, is published by Mitchell Beazley, priced £25, octopusbooks.co.uk

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Diana's new cookbook

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